Refreshers Diary Entry One: Fresher’s Fiesta

Take a trip down Memory Lane as Luke re-lives the Fresher FIesta experience….


Photo by Joe Mason


Sunday 23rd September- the first official night of UCL Freshers’ Week.

Mission One: KOKO, Mornington Crescent (or maybe Camden- I’ve been here two years and I still don’t know where the hell anything is).

When I arrived back in the halcyon days of 2010 I distinctly remember the weather being a damn sight better than it is today. It’s absolutely grim- like I’ve arrived in Bangladesh during the monsoon.

My last experience at KOKO was back in my own Freshers days- before “Skool Disco” migrated to Piccadilly Institute. In those days a double vodka and coke cost something just short of £12 so this time I’m not taking any chances. And so the solution is ASDA “Hawkesridge” cider (other budget ciders are available). It’s cheap and nasty and doesn’t taste much better when you throw blackcurrant cordial in with it.

Eventually I have to leave the comfort of my flat in Camden and make my way down to KOKO. On route a couple of 29 and 253 buses go past and I can definitely spot a handful of freshers from Ifor Evans and Max Rayne. The amusing thing about these freshers is that they’ve only known each other 36 hours at most. That makes me sad- because I’ve had to put up with one of my halls flatmates for the past 2 years.

KOKO’s bouncers are surprisingly friendly. The freshers I bump in to are extremely enthusiastic. This enthusiasm will soon be sapped.

Since I’m a harsh, judgemental individual it’s also relatively funny seeing the freshers who have clearly brought trends from home with them. Apparently this winter’s style is rural and rustic- which means as an Irish country boy I should fit in without even having to try.

“Apparently this winter’s style is rural and rustic- which means as an Irish country boy I should fit in without even having to try.  “

Contrary to popular reports things at Freshers don’t often get incredibly wild It’s good fun though- spirits are high and plenty of spirits are being consumed. Somebody worse for wear in the toilets seems to have drunk a lot of something green. Not pleasant. Damn freshers.

I manage to grab a word with a fresher or two- for some reason neither seemed keen to get their name out there. One gave me an in depth explanation of why KOKO is a “shit venue, like too high and shit”. I think this opinion was based on the architecture- not a wide availability of drugs.

The other was very pleased to meet a real Irish person- I grew tired of this in queues and smoking areas in London long ago.

“You have a really fit accent- I bet people always say that to you, don’t they?”

“Well where I come from no, because a lot of people have my accent.”

“How come?”

This tends to be a signal to end the conversation immediately. It really, really isn’t worth it.

Meanwhile I overhear plenty of snatches of conversation about “gap yahs”. I didn’t do a “gap yah” because I’m only middle-middle class. Someone does seem to have been to Thailand though- standard stuff right there. I wonder whether the guy I come across boasting about his time with humanitarian agencies is telling the truth or whether the bulging cleavage of the sultry blonde with the Marlboro light smouldering between her fingers is influencing him.

 “I didn’t do a ‘gap yah’ because I’m only middle-middle class.”

My night ends with a slightly longer trip home than usual- with a stop off at King of Falafel along the way. In my humble opinion it is Camden’s finest kebabérie.

And then off home to bed, a successful night had by all. Or by me at least. Although it wasn’t the craziest night I’ve ever had. Hopefully more tales will be told as the rest of the week goes on and things turn out not quite as I plan. That is after all the best part.